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Observe here, The prohibition, and the reason of that prohibition. Judge not, this is not meant of ourselves, but of our neighbour.
Self-judging is a great duty; judging others a grievous sin; yet is not all judging of others condemned, but a judging of our neighbour's state or person rashly and rigidly, censoriously and uncharitably: especially unrighteously and unjustly. And the reason of the prohibition is added; if we judge others rashly, God will judge us righteously.
Learn thence, That a rash and censorious judging of others, renders a person liable and obnoxious to the righteous judgment of God.
Note farther, That Christ doth not here forbid judicial judging by the civil magistrate, nor ecclesiastical judging by the church governors, whose office gives them authority so to do. Nor does he forbid one Christian to pass a judgment on the notorious actions of another, seeing the duty of reproof cannot be performed without it; but it is such a rash and censorious judging our brother, as is void of charity towards him, as is accompanied with contempt of him, especially if we have been guilty of the same or greater sins before him.
By the mote in our brother's eye, is to be understood small and little sins, or some supposed sins: by the beam in our own eye, is meant some notorious sin of our own.
Learn, 1. That those who are most censorious of the lesser infirmities of others, are usually most notoriously guilty of far greater failings themselves.
2. That those who desire others should look upon their infirmities with a compassionate eye, must not look upon the failings of others with a censorious eye.
3. That there is no such way to teach us charity in judging others, as to exercise severity in judging ourselves.
By that which is holy, understand the word and ordinances in general, but admonition and reproof in particular: By dogs and swine, incorrigible and unreclaimable sinners, hardened scorners of holy things: It is a proverbial speech, expressing how sure charitable reprehensions are to be cast away upon incorrigble sinners.
Learn, 1. That it is possible for sinners to arrive at such a height and pitch in wickedness and sin, that it may be a Christian's duty not to admonish or reprove them.
Observe, 2. How Christ provides, as for the honour of his word, so for the safety of those that publish it. As Christ will not have his word offered to some sinners, lest they should abuse it, so also lest they should abuse those that bring it: When sinners turn swine, and we are in danger of being rent by them, Christ himself gives us a permission to cease reproving of them.
Observe here, a precept and a promise; the precept, or duty commanded, is importunity and constancy in prayer, we must ask, seek, and knock; the promise, or mercy indured,, is audience and acceptance with God.
Note, 1. That man, is a poor, indigent, and necessitous creature, full of wants, but unable to supply them.
2. That God is an all-sufficient good, able to supply the wants and to relieve the necessities of his creatures, if they call upon him, and cry unto him.
3. Yet if we do not presently receive what we ask, we must still continue to seek and knock; though prayer be not always answered in our time, yet it shall never fail of an answer in God's time.
4. That natural propensity which we find in our breasts to hear the desires and to supply the wants of our own children, ought to raise in us a confident expectation, that Almighty God will hear our prayers, and supply our wants, when we call upon him: if a father will give when a child asks, much more will God. If ye being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father, &c. God loves to be giving and to give good gifts is his delight.
But prayer is the key that opens both his heart and hand: yet not every person nor every prayer shall find acceptance with God: the person praying must be a doer of God's will, and the manner of our prayer must be in faith, and with fervency, and unfeigned perseverance.
Observe here, 1. An incomparable rule of life; always to do as we would be done by.
Note, That the great rule of righteousness and equity in all our dealings with men is this, To do us we would be done unto: it is a short rule, a full rule, and a clear rule; both the light of nature and the law of Christ bind it upon us.
Observe, 2. The commendation of this rule. It is the law and the prophets; that is, the sum of the Old Testament, so far as concerns our duty to our neighbour, and the substance of the second table.
Learn, That it is the design on the scriptures of the Old Testament, first to render men dutiful and obedient to God, and then righteous and charitable one to another.
This is the law and the prophets, yea, the whole of the law and the prophets, to love God above ourselves, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Observe here, 1. That every man is a traveller in a certain way.
2. That there are but two ways in which the race of mankind can travel;
the one strait and narrow, that leads to life and salvation;
the other broad and wide, which leads to hell and destruction.
3. That because of the difficulties in the way to salvation, and the easiness of the way to hell and destruction, hence it is that so few walk in the one, and so many in the other.
4. That Christians having the strait way to heaven revealed to them, in and by the word of God, should choose rather to go in that way alone to life, that to run with the multititude in the road way which leads down to the chambers of death and hell.
5. That the metaphor of a gate denotes our first entrance into a religious course of life, and its being strait denotes the difficulty that attends religion at first; evil habits to be put off, old companions in sin to be parted with; but when faith and patience have once smoothed our way, love will make our work delightful to us.
Observe here, 1. A caution given, Beware of false prophets. There were two sorts of deceivers which our Saviour gave his disciples a special warning of; namely false Christs and false prophets: false Christs were such as pretended to be the true Messiahs; false prophets were such as pretended to own Christianity, but drew people away from the simplicity of the gospel.
Observe, 2. The ground of this caution: They come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves; that is, they make fair pretences to strictness in religion, and to greater measures and degrees of mortification and self-denial than others.
Whence we learn, That such who go about to seduce others, usually pretend to extraordinary measures of sanctity themselves, to raise an admiration among those who judge of saints more by their looks than by their lives; more by their expressions than by their actions. What heavenly looks and devout gestures, what long prayers and frequent fastings had the hypocritical Pharisees, beyond what Christ or his disciples ever practised!
Observe, 3. The rule laid down by Christ, whereby we are to judge of false teachers; by their fruits ye shall know them.
Learn, That the best course we can take to judge of teachers pretending to be sent of God, is to examine the design and tendency of their doctrines, and the course and tenor of their conversations. Good teachers, like good trees, will bring forth the good fruits of truth and holiness; but evil men and seducers, like corrupt trees, will bring forth error and wickedness in their life and doctrine.
Not every one; that is, Not any one that saith Lord, Lord, that is, that owneth me by way of profession, by way of prayer, and by way of appeal, shall be saved; But he that doeth the will of my Father sincerely and universally.
Learn hence, 1. That multitude at the great day shall be really disowned by Christ, as none of his servants, that did nominately own him for their Lord and Master: many that have now prophesied in his name, shall then perish in his wrath: many that have cast out devils now, shall be cast out to devils then: such as have now done many wonderful works, shall then perish for evil workers.
Note, 2. That a bare name and profession of Christianity, without the practice of it, is a very insufficient ground to build our hopes of heaven and salvation upon. A profession of faith and purposes of obedience, without actual obedience to the commands of God, will avail no person to salvation.
3. That gifts, eminent gifts, yea extraordinary and miraculous gifts, are not to be rested in or depended upon as sufficient evidences for heaven and salvation. Gifts are as the gold which adorns the temple, but grace is like the temple that sanctifies the gold.
Christ here speaks of two houses, the one built upon a rock, the other on the sand; these two houses were alike skilfully and strongly built to outward appearance; while the sun shone and the weather was fair, none could discern but that the house upon the sand was built as well, and might stand as long, as that on the rock; but when the rain fell the foundation failed.
Thus, where is the hypocrite with all his faith and fear, with all his shew and appearance of grace, in a wet and windy day? His goodly outside is like the apples of Sodom, fair and alluring to the eye, being touched, instantly evaporate into dust and smoke. A hypocrite stands in grace no longer than till he falls into trouble; and accordingly our Saviour here concludes his excellent sermon with an elegant similitude.
The wise builder is not the frequent hearer, but the faithful doer of the word, or the obedient Christian; the house is heaven, and the hope of eternal life; the rock is Christ; the building upon the sand, is rested in the rare performance of outward duties: the rains, the winds, and the floods, are all kinds of afflicting evils, sufferings, and persecutions, that may befall us.
Note, 1. That the obedient believer is the only wise man, that builds his hope of heaven upon a sure and abiding foundation.
Note, 2. That such professors as rest in the outward performances of holy duties, are foolish builders, their foundation is weak and sandy, and all their hopes of salvation vain and uncertain. An outward profession of Christianity, though set off by prophesying and doing miracles, will not avail any man towards his account at the great day, without that real and faithful, that universal and impartial, obedience to the laws of Christ which the gospel requires.
Here we have two things observable, 1. The manner of our Lord's teaching, it was with authority: that is, it was grave and serious, pious and ardent, plain and profitable. With what brevity, without darkness! with what gravity, without affectation! with what eloquence, without meretricious ornament, were our Lord's discourses! The majesty he shewed in his sermons, made it evidently appear, that he was a teacher sent of God, and clothed with his authority.
Observe, 2. The success of his teaching: The people were astonished at his doctrine; affected with admiration, believing him to be an extraordinary prophet.
Learn, That such is the power of Christ's doctrine, when accompanied with the energy of the Holy Spirit, that it makes all auditors admirers, yea, believers; it causes astonishment in their minds, and reformation in their manners.
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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Matthew 7". Burkitt's Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the NT. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20